As any parent knows, talking with teens about sex is uncomfortable and awkward — and vitally important. But for the counselors in our school-based programs, frank discussions about safe sex are an everyday occurrence.
We’re working with both boys and girls in 25 middle and high schools throughout New York City to develop leadership, healthy relationship behaviors, and prevent teen pregnancy as part of our Inwood House program. Discussions, projects, and fun activities are designed to help students learn to make wise choices — about delaying sexual activity, avoiding parenthood until they’re ready, and not smoking or using drugs. Lessons about condoms, STDs, and when “no means no” are interspersed with making videos about bullying and holding educational fairs for their fellow students.
Just 38% of teen mothers get a high school diploma; daughters of teen mothers are three times as likely to become teen mothers themselves.
— National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
“I learn something new every day,” says Ylani. “I’ve learned what to think about before I make a decision that might affect my life for a long time. Last month we did a project called ‘Spread the Word’ where we made posters about avoiding pregnancy and got to talk to the other kids about what we’ve learned. I feel like I’m learning to be a leader.”
The good news is that teen pregnancy rates have been dropping — 9% since 2015 and 67% since 1991. There are many factors that have led to this good news, but part of the solution is education delivered to teens in a way that is frank and nonjudgmental. Ylani has her sights on being a pediatrician. She understands that doing well in school, avoiding drugs, and not getting pregnant are critical to making that happen.